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21st January 2020
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Court upholds seizure of N2.4bn linked to Mrs Patience Jonathan

Court upholds seizure of N2.4bn linked to Mrs Patience Jonathan
Court upholds seizure of N2.4bn linked to Mrs Patience Jonathan

The Supreme Court has on Friday upheld their earlier decision given to the Federal Government to on the interim seize the $8.4million believed to belong to ex-First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.

The Supreme court following his earlier judgement again agreed to a similar forfeiture of another N2.4bn linked with Mrs Patience Jonathan.

Anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the sum of $8.4m were discovered in some accounts linked to the ex-First Lady, the N2,421,953,522.00 was said to be held in bank accounts owned by Lawari Furniture and Bath Limited, an entity in which Mrs Jonathan allegedly has interest.

In a judgment on Friday, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court rejected the appeal by Lawari Furniture on the grounds that it was without merit. The appeal was filed and argued for the appellant by Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

In the lead judgment written by Justice Amiru Sanusi, but read by Justice Sidi Bage the court upheld the order of interim forfeiture made by a High Court in Lagos on April 26, 2017, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal, Lagos in a judgment given on January 12, 2018.

The court rejected the argument by the appellant, who faulted the interim order of forfeiture obtained by the EFCC via an ex-parte motion, and prayed that it be set aside.

It also rejected the appellant’s prayer to void Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act and other Fraud related offences Act, on which the High Court relied in issuing the order of interim forfeiture.

The court, in the lead judgment, noted that it rarely interferes in the concurrent findings of the two lower courts, except where there are exceptional circumstances and the findings perverse.

It noted that, in the instant case, no such exceptional circumstances existed.

In his supporting judgment, a member of the panel, Justice Ejembi Eko observed that the substance of this appeal was similar to the one decided by the court on March 8 this year (relating to the interim forfeiture of $8.4m).

Justice Eko said both appeals ought not to be split and assigned to different panels to avoid the risk of issuing conflicting judgments.

He found nothing wrong with the provision of Section 17 of the Money Laundering Act, which he noted, was the same as the provision in Section 29 of the EFCC Act.

Other members of the panel: Justices Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Mary Peter Odili and Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, agreed with the lead judgment.

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